~ Death Valley National Park ~
Scotty's Castle and Ubehebe Crater

As usual on Day Two, I was up early, before the sun came up over the Amargosa Mountains. I immediately went to the Visitor Center to buy a t-shirt and pin for my hatband. I, then, headed north to Scotty's Castle, stopping at the Harmony Borax Works for a second look at it.

Because of all the photo ops along the way, it took about two hours to travel the 50+ miles to the castle. It lies three miles up in the Grapevine Canyon, but the road is paved all the way. After the trip to Mosaic Canyon I had decided to not drive any more gravel roads, if possible. They are just too hard on Budder, Arvie and me.

As desert scenes go Scotty's Castle was not all that much. It is a engineering marvel being located in Grapevine Canyon in the desert, but I prefer the natural scenes in places like Death Valley National Park. Scotty's Castle is one of those attractions where the getting there is better than the being there. The Grapevine Canyon is filled with wondrous and colorful rock formations. From the castle I headed over to the Ubehebe (You be, He be) Crater and that made this 100-mile plus round-trip worth the time. Ubehebe is a Timbisha Shoshone phrase that means "basket in the rocks." The ancestors of the Timbisha Shoshone lived within the Death Valley and Mojave Desert for more than 10,000 years.

From the crater I headed back south to the Furnace Creek Visitor Center for lunch. From Furnace Creek I headed for Badwater Basin and the lowest spot in North America. At the time I was there, it seemed like the hottest, too. Those photos are on another page.




Scotty's Castle

Hidden in the green oasis of Grapevine Canyon in far northern Death Valley, the Death Valley Ranch, or Scotty's Castle as it is more commonly known, is a window into the life and times of the Roaring 20's and Depression 30's. It was and is an engineer's dream home, a wealthy matron's vacation home and a man-of-mystery's hideout and getaway.
Walter Scott, Death Valley Scotty, born in Cynthiana, Kentucky, convinced local people that he had built the castle with money from his rich secret gold mines in the area. Wealthy Chicagoan Albert Mussey Johnson actually built the house as a vacation getaway for himself and his wife Bessie. Scotty was the mystery, the cowboy, and the entertainer, but he was also a friend. Albert was the brains and the money. Two men as different as night and day, from different worlds and with different visions - who shared a dream.






My first view of Scotty's Castle although I was still over a mile away

As much as I could get in one shot. Scotty's Castle is a two-story Mission Revival and Spanish Colonial Revival style Villa. However, in an area filled with natural wonders a man-made wonder just isn't as exciting.


There were some really cool trees there


I wandered around on a sort of a self-guided tour of the grounds








On the left is a courtyard. There is another man on the other end taking a photo at the same time as I took mine.
The photo on the right doesn't belong here, but who cares?


I walked across this structure, but I have no idea what it was. Given the darkness at night it could have housed a planatarium.


There were cacti there


And a desert planter


And blooming flowers in the August desert


And this cool spiral staircase

Ubehebe Crater

There was a natural wonder that made the trip up even more worth the drive.


After an hour or so, I headed back down the Grapevine and over to Ubehebe Crater


Finally arriving at the Ubehebe Crater.
By the way the Racetrack is an area where large rocks move across a dry lake botttom without any explanable means of propulsion. If it had not been a long drive on a gravel road, I would have gone to see them. If you are interested, do a search for Death Valley Racetrack or sailing stones.




The Ubehebe (You be, He be) Crater. It is located at the north tip of the Cottonwood Mountains. The crater is half a mile (one kilometer) wide and 500 to 777 feet deep. The age of the crater is estimated from 2,000 to 7,000 years old. "Ubehebe" is a Timbisha Native American word meaning "Big basket in the rock." To the Timbisha Shoshone Tribe this crater is Wosa, "Coyote's burden basket," the place where the people emerged to spread in four directions across the land.


The crater is evidence of the forces that shaped and are continuing to shape Death Valley. Unlike most geologic feathures, the age of Ubehebe Crater is measured in thousands of years rather than millions of years.
Rising magma, hot, molten rock, turns ground water into steam. Intense steam pressure builds until the superheated combination of steam and rock explodes, creating a crater like Ubehebe. There are many volcanic craters in this area of Death Valley. Ubehebe is the largest.


Views from Ubehebe


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